corby's picture

Do I need to point out that these two ways of discouraging dilettantes result in very different pools of people who "make the cut" into regularly being in armor? Physical Punishment culls all but the big, or at least the tough, or the very, very stubborn and occasionally the dumb. If your fight practice is full of the big, tough, stubborn and dumb, then you're looking at the results of Physical Punishment.

On the other hand, Boredom does not discourage the big or the small, the tough or the easily bruised. The stubborn come back, but so do the unsure. The only people who don't come back are those who don't really want to do it, and maybe the impatient.

The impatient are easy to spot. Often, they have a strong sports or martial arts background and they think that if they can just get in armor, they will be naturals. An impatient potential fighter with some sort of physical background that makes him (always a male) want to be in armor right away will push for that, and teachers can speed things up. But the time learning some actual blows and blocks is important even for those natural talents, and even more important for those he is going to fight. The time an instructor spends with those naturals can give valuable insights into whether the new guy is likely to go wild once they're in armor.

A very small percentage of new students are both impatient to get in armor and completely unsuited for it. The Boredom instruction method may drive those people away, but impatient, untalented fighters will never stay around anyway.

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corby's picture

An example

Here's one real example of a guy who would have been frightening if we had put him in armor the first time he showed up.

The newbie: 6"4" or there abouts, probably 210 pounds of lean, grisly muscle. One eyebrow.
I spent 30+ minutes working with him on two occasions, showing him blows which he picked up with frightening speed. He learned immediately how to throw fast, hard blows. He also saw me and others demonstrating blows of minimum or better force, and he got to watch several people fight.

Yet he had one question for every single fighter and non-fighter at that practice. We realized that he asked everyone because he was hoping someone would give him a different answer.
The question he asked? "Do I have to wear a helmet?"
To this day I'm still not sure what was wrong with this guy, but I'm pretty sure he could have skipped wearing a helmet, because it was clear that the head was not a vital area for him.